All entries for March 2012

March 16, 2012

Speed Reading: Taking care, moving backwards, slowing down…

Follow-up to Speed Reading: Even though I am a mathematician… from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Han-Na Cha.

Points were read symbols until you get as good at reading symbols as words and try reading out of order because I’ve found previously that focusing on more than two things at the same time is a good way to forget what I’m doing and not get much done :). If we need three, an additional (fair) one could be slow down your default reading speed to increase comprehension - it wasn’t until the session where I, not thinking I was doing anything differently, hit 650 wpm as my normal speed and realised that that was so much faster than other people read. A rough timing showed that my speed of reading fiction (at least on a screen) is about that quick as well (around 150,000 words in a four hour block). I think my reading speed is slower when it comes to books (although I haven’t tested this); I do the vast majority of my reading from a screen.

Let’s comment on the second one first, because that’s shorter. If a summary, or key point list, is offered at the end, it’s convenient to do that -> section headings -> start, linearly forward to get some indication of where it’s going and which parts to skip over. If not, the section headings themselves offer a decent summary (often, yet not always).

Onto the first: reading symbols. We begin, naturally, with an example.
(\forall x,y)(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)(|x-y|< \delta \Rightarrow |f(x)-f(y)|<\epsilon)
This one is the definition of continuity of a function f everywhere. Once again, the brackets here provide an obvious chunk. Draw attention, here, to the first triplet:
(\forall x,y)(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)
This is /also/ a chunk: that is, it’s a combination you see a lot, and it’s also the initiation step for this sentence: we have initiation, followed by statement. It’s also importantly different from
(\forall \epsilon > 0)(\exists \delta)(\forall x,y)
which is used for uniform continuity, despite sharing all three chunked phrases, with two paired.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out the way to get better at reading is to read more, and look out for the patterns that emerge.


March 08, 2012

Emotional Intelligence: Reflections; an Afterword

Follow-up to Emotional Intelligence: An Amnesiac Discovery from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Samantha Tarren.

Commentary: We begin with the second point, “I don’t feel sadness”, or at least its twin “I don’t remember feeling sadness”. It’s looking like this is a coping mechanism of sorts, with the final stage being “forget the problem ever existed”. We have the sequence: observe problem, contemplate reasons for problem, decide only own opinion matters, tease out explanation/learning, focus on something else, forget journey and only remember results. I’m not sure why it wound up like that. I can garner the feeling back if I try, but I’m not sure why I’d want to. I used to dwell on this sort of thing for days, which is probably why I expunged it: it’s not a nice thing, even if it helped me get my thoughts in order/focus/write. I couldn’t deal with it and had no idea where it came from, so I “dealt” with it by ignoring it until it went away. But here I am, dealing with depression through arrogance and apathy.

We then move on, linearly, to the first part, “why do I not want to do things?”. It turned out there were a lot of these: “there is too much to do”, “there is too little to focus on”, “I have other things to do”, etc. As stated in the overview, however, I noticed, went “huh.”, and then went for business as usual, so I can’t even be sure I was correct! I’m not even all that good at differentiating them, these reasons underlying the feeling. Also, remembering how I felt in the past is a trick for feelings as..specific as these.

Overview: Well, I solved one problem. Yay.

For the other, however, I was asking the wrong question. The aim was not “why do I not want to do things?”, it was “how can I make myself do things, considering my current state?”. Realising how I felt was the first step, but it is also important to try doing things in different states, in different ways, to find the most effective. As it was, I was reflecting, noting the results, and then ignoring them in favour of the “brute force” approach that worked reasonably well for a variety of feelings in the past, instead of considering a specialization.

So I suppose we have here a lesson: ask the right questions. Don’t split things into steps so fine you forget your own head - remember what the aim is.


March 2012

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